Yesterday I made ‘Puzhukku’ and ‘Vengaya Sambhar’ for lunch – hard core Pattar fare! And when my mother sat down for lunch, he comments were “But today is Saturday, not Sunday”!!. That said it all – she was happy that traditional recipes are surviving in my kitchen – but remembered the times when it was the standard recipe for Sunday lunch in her kitchen. And I had to admit, that when I made it I had somehow thought that it was Sunday.
The puzhukku, that my mother had learnt from her mother-in-law, was a great favorite of my father. It is essentially made from whole green moog, soaked and cooked with Chena Kizhangu (a kind of yam called elephant yam) to which is added curry leaves and coconut ground with red chillis. Other root vegetables can also be added – sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, other types of yams etc…. It, along with the sambhar made with the small onions, was a fixed menu for the Sunday lunches of my childhood. The preparation is an essential part of the festival of Thiruvathira which is celebrated in Kerala on the full moon of the month of Dhanu (Mid December ot Mid January). Thiruvathira puzhukku, must have colocasia (chembu or arabi)), yam (chena), Chinese potato (koorka), sweet potato, long beans (vanpayar) and raw plantain to give it authencity.
So much of one’s childhood memories are around the traditions of food. My mother’s tastes are reverting totally to the traditional and I try to cater to her tastes. I have over the years become a non-rice eater, and these preparations are not great with chappatis. But, I shared the lunch with her yesterday and as I enjoyed the chappatis – puzhukku- sambhar combination, it made me ponder over how our brain connections work – the nostalgia certainly won over my taste buds in this case!